Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “Key parts of Collier County’s drainage system remain overwhelmed by Hurricane Irma floodwaters more than a week after the storm struck. The South Florida Water Management District began using additional pumping capacity over the weekend to more quickly lower water levels in the Cocohatchee and Golden Gate canal systems. Those canals empty into the Gulf of Mexico through Wiggins Pass and Naples Bay, raising questions about water quality along the coast… In all, those pumps are moving about 2,000 gallons of water per second out to the Gulf of Mexico, Smith (of SFWMD) said… [T]he pumps are not expected to help reduce floodwaters in eastern Bonita Springs, where water reached mailbox height in some neighborhoods. The district has been working with Lee County to determine whether water managers can help without making matters worse downstream… The Florida Department of Health in Collier plans to test water for bacteria… at 12 spots along the beach… Collier utilities managers have reported sewage system overflows countywide in the wake of Irma… A water conservation order is in effect in Collier to keep water out of the sewer system… County pollution control manager Danette Kinaszczuk said water being dumped into the Gulf could look dark because it is carrying sediment and organic matter churned up by Irma. ‘There’s a ton of water going out, and it’s often turbid,’ she said.” Read Hurricane Irma: Collier drainage system still overwhelmed more than a week after storm
Amy Green reports for WMFE – “For most Floridians life is near normal more than a week after Irma, but for residents on some of the state’s biggest waterways the ordeal isn’t over… [T]her are new fears about flooding… Lake Okeechobee is expected to rise to near historic heights, and water managers are rushing to drain the… lake before too much water pressures its aging earthen dike… Along the St. Johns homeowners on lakes Harney and Jesup have experienced flooding, and more is possible… Managers are diverting water from the river’s headwaters in central Florida to the Indian River Lagoon to help ease the deluge.” Read After Irma, New Flooding Along Major Florida Waterways
Krista Torralva reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Homeowners along West Kelly Park Road in Apopka worry they’ll be the next to helplessly watch their houses slip into the ground after two large sinkholes half a mile away opened up two days apart… Residents should expect one or two more sinkholes in the next couple weeks, [Devo Seereeram, Orange County sinkhole consultant and engineer] said. Sinkholes come in batches in the aftermath of a large storm like Hurricane Irma… Since Hurricane Irma stormed through Central Florida…, 56 sinkholes have been reported in Ocala… The deluge of rain triggers the sinkholes… The sinkholes should stop as the rain settles into the ground, which could take about a month after the storm, he said.” Read Residents along Apopka road worry about sinkholes after a second, larger one opens
The Florida Times Union Editorial Board writes – “The latest crisis comes in the form of a House-approved budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that, if accepted by the Senate, would be the lowest budget for the agency since 2001. That would be no small feat: The EPA has historically been an agency forced to operate with one of the smaller budgets in federal government… Under [the House’s budget], [EPA] staffing levels would be cut to pre-1990 levels. And such drastic cuts would hit Florida extremely hard. Here EPA funds are used to restore polluted sites, protect the state’s beaches and estuaries, monitor and enforce air and water quality, repair leaking underground storage tanks and more. The budget cuts would certainly lead to a reduction in the amount Florida receives in grant funding from the EPA, which totaled $600 million over the last five years… The EPA has traditionally operated in an almost emergency-management role before and after natural disasters to mitigate and prevent environmental damage. It is, in a sense, the science arm of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. When a hurricane hits, the agency monitors air and water quality; evaluates spills, including those of oil and raw sewage; collects toxic household debris; secures brownfields and Superfund sites. All of these tasks are extraordinarily important in hurricane-prone Florida…” Read A weaker EPA means a more vulnerable Florida
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “A first-of-its-kind scientific study has determined that the dispersant BP sprayed at the oil gushing form the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 harmed human health… Subsequent studies have determined that the mixture of Corexit and oil was toxic to marine organisms, including corals. But the human health impacts were a mystery.” Read Study: Dispersant used to clean 2010 BP oil spill harmed humans
Ron Littlepage writes for The Florida Times Union – “When you fill in wetlands to build massive subdivisions, when you cover the ground with concrete and asphalt, when you continue to allow the creation of new cities equivalent to the size of Orlando on this fragile peninsula, rain isn’t absorbed into the ground as it normally would be. When the storms come, and they will come bigger and stronger than before, that water then runs off into the state’s creeks, streams and rivers… Developers have had their way in this state long before Scott became governor. He just made it even easier for them… We saw what Harvey did to Houston, the poster child for over development and poor planning. Parts of Florida are already far along that same path, and Jacksonville isn’t far behind.” Read Florida is paying the price for Scott’s clueless views on climate change
Joanna Klein reports for The New York Times – “Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of international researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines… Dr. Mazaris said his paper is a tale of ‘cautionary optimism.’ He commends conservationists working to save turtles over the past 70 years, but ‘long term efforts need to be supported.’” Read Sea Turtles Appear to Be Bouncing Back Around the World
Alex Daugherty reports for the Miami Herald – “The federal agency tasked with managing billions in long-term hurricane-relief money is on the Trump administration’s chopping block.” Read Trump wants to eliminate the federal program that oversees long-term hurricane relief
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September 26, 6:00 pm – Attend “Is Pensacola a Strong Town? – An Evening with Chuck Marohn” in Pensacola. Chuck will discuss how communities in northwest Florida can become more fiscally responsible, manage growth more responsibly and protect taxpayers from long-term expenses. For more information, and to register, click here.
September 29, 2:00 pm – Attend or view a live stream of FSU’s Environmental College of Law Fall 2017 Environmental Forum: “The Psychology of Climate Change: Why do People Believe What they Believe?” For more information, click here.
October 3, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. October’s lecture is a Springs Overview – Past, Present, and Future with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454- 2427.
October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.
October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $50. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.
October 19, 6:30 pm – Attend “Natural Treasures of the Florida Panhandle,” a presentation by Bruce Means, Coastal Plains Institute, at The King Life Sciences Building, FSU, in Tallahassee.
October 28, 11:30 am – Join the Silver Springs Alliance for a scavenger hunt as you paddle this iconic waterway in Silver Springs. Channel the spirits of Florida's river past by dressing up in a costume that reflects Florida's cultural heritage: Spanish conquistadors, pioneers, steamboat travelers, or movie characters from the Spring's film legacy! Be creative and win a prize in our costume contest! All ages are welcome! Proceeds from this event will support the Silver Springs Alliance’s efforts to protect Silver Springs and River. For more information and to register, click here.
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